“Mud”, and the New Marlboro Man

Mud is easily in my top 3 movies of 2013 so far. Maybe it’s number one but I have to wait a couple of days to see how it settles. And if anything bumps it out of top spot, it’s one thing: Marlboro – and what looks suspiciously like very clumsy-ass product placement.

If you saw Take Shelter (writer/director Jeff Nichols’ previous film) and wished you liked it but weren’t pretentious enough to actually honestly enjoy it, don’t be put off. Although could acknowledge the mastery of his craft Nichols displayed in that, it feel like a very, very, long and tedious short film to me and I didn’t buy the marriage at all. If you liked Take Shelter, then Mud offers that kind of cinematic beauty, only this time, it’s combined with compelling story telling. Even the slightly studio ending with it’s extraneous “I love you” doesn’t manage to ruin it for me.

Go see it. On a big screen. Don't forget.

Go see it. On a big screen. Don’t forget.

Back to the only thing that really bothered me: the product placement. Now, I assume that they had to make a few moral compromises to get the 10 million dollars to make a decent movie in an industry that doesn’t really care to finance that sort of thing anymore? And I’m fine with that. I love making movies so much that I wouldn’t care if this one was funded by… *thinks* … who do I hate more than big tobacco? McDonalds. But what bugged me was that the story involves Mud (Matthew McConaughey) being stranded on an island off the Mississippi without food and needing to be brought cans of beans by two kids he befriends. Yet although he is starving to death, and smokes constantly, he never, not once, runs out of cigarettes. Even pinching them (which he does) wouldn’t explain this. Unless the kids are supplying him with that too. It took me out of the story for a second. And that, not the fact that cigarettes cause cancer, is what bothered me. Lots of stuff causes cancer. And most of it is harder to avoid than cigarettes are. Don’t smoke ’em. Easy.

Howdy kids! None of the publicity stills show him lighting up, but he does it a lot... as does his love interest, played by Reece Witherspoon (she prefers the menthols).

Howdy kids! None of the publicity stills show him lighting up, but he does it a lot… as does his love interest, played by Reece Witherspoon (she prefers the menthols).

These days, the good guys smoke. It helps with the stress.

These days, the good guys smoke. It helps with the stress. The packet of Marlboro Kings is always clearly visible through his white shirt pocket.

It's always helped with the stress.

It’s always helped with the stress.

And it's nice to do it as a family. Here, a dad and his daughter spark up a Marlboro - and share a moment of closeness!

And it’s nice to do it as a family. Here, a dad and his daughter spark up a Marlboro – and share a moment of closeness!

Notice the similarity, or is it just me?

Notice the similarity, or is it just me?

PS: Jeff is not related to film director Mike Nichols. He IS, however, directly related to his brother Ben Nichols – lead singer of the band Lucero.

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2 Responses to ““Mud”, and the New Marlboro Man”

  1. alantekab Says:

    Reblogged this on Alan Tek Abraham Blog.

  2. shans99 Says:

    I’m convinced smoking, at least in the US, breaks down along social class lines. It’s looked on with great scorn if you’re educated; my dad always made clear that smoking was pretty much the one unforgivable thing I could do growing up. It always surprised me in SA to see college kids smoking because I haven’t seen anyone smoke since high school, and even then it was the kids people had already tagged as losers.

    I think it’s one of the biggest class markers we have.

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